The ancient art of cat juggling

June 3, 2009

In The Jerk, one of Steve Martin's characters juggled cats. It was a little bit like juggling clients.

In The Jerk, one of Steve Martin's characters juggled cats. It was a little bit like juggling clients.

If you've ever seen “The Jerk,” then you undoubtedly recall the scene in which Steve Martin's character juggles cats. We know it's not real, so it's hilarious when Martin gets ahead of himself and one of the cats goes tumbling to the floor. Of course, that's fiction. In real life, there's nothing funny about a project spinning out of control. And when graphic designers must constantly increase or maintain work flow in the interest of financial security, it can be difficult to juggle everything at once. The fear is that, like the flying fur balls in “The Jerk,” a client project will take a spill and burn a hole in your bank account and your reputation. If you're overwhelmed by projects, you have three choices: 1) ask your clients to wait; 2) hire help; or 3) turn down work. None of these seems especially appealing, right? The problem is that most freelancers view themselves as irreplaceable talent in the sense that if they do not personally complete every client project themselves, they have failed the client. This is not true. You have to separate professional pride from entrepreneurship. If you're in business to make money, at some point you have to grow. Despite what many other bloggers advocate, working smart DOES NOT mean organizing better. It DOES NOT mean putting each client file in a folder, and it DOES NOT mean simply working on one project each day until it is complete, then moving on to the next. Business dictates that working smarter means diversifying delegation and transitioning from labor into management, and then into ownership. You do own your own business, after all, don't you? Asking clients to wait will cause you to lose money, either because it will take you longer to earn money or because your clients will not wait. Turning down work is an obvious forfeit of funds. Most freelancers think hiring help will lose money, too. This is not true, as long as you can increase volume as you delegate tasks. Let's say you make $400 each day on your design work. Why not gradually source your work to other talented designers and increase your order volume until you're grossing $1,200 per day, and making $400 for yourself, with virtually no effort on your part? Just like Steve Martin's character could have saved some kittens by handing them off instead of trying to juggle them all himself, you can grow your business by handing projects off to others. How do you juggle multiple clients? Do you ever source your work?

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About Brian Morris

Brian Morris serves in various capacities as a freelance writer, content developer and public relations specialist for growing small businesses. When he’s not writing, he can be found on the racquetball court - usually getting his tail kicked by guys 20 years older.

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